I’ve always traveled a lot. For the last 10 years, I made anywhere from 5 to 10 international trips a year and lived abroad. It comes as no surprise that a lot of people asking me how I manage to do it. I’ve never been rich, neither do I have a rich husband. In this post, I tell you how I afford to travel so much.
How I afford to travel?
Some assume that I must get my funding from some sort of magic sponsors. As a result, they think they’ll never be able to do what I’ve been doing – travel the world.Well, I must disappoint you, but traveling hasn’t always my job. At least not from the start.
While it is possible to be paid to travel, it’s a totally different story than being paid to travel as a blogger. Despite what you may read on some well-known travel blogs, who regularly go on press trips, not all of them are being paid for it. But let’s focus on this later.
As for me, I started blogging in 2010, but I only opened this blog in 2014. It became my real full-time job in 2015. However, remember that I’ve been traveling on my own since I was 15. Let me tell you how I did it.
How did I travel before I started blogging?
The most common assumption when you travel is that you MUST be rich. If you buy good cosmetics or go to Starbucks on a daily basis, does anyone automatically assume that you’re rich? No. No one is also asking you who’s paying for all this. Travel has some kind of financial stigma.
I always knew that I wanted to travel. Ever time I received some money for Christmas or birthday, I saved for later. One would think that it’s impossible for a teenager to save that much money. Well, I cut out expensive cosmetics, new clothes, the best gadgets you could find, and I didn’t go out as much as my friends did.
Where I grew up, the legal age limit for work is 18. Hence, my working opportunities were limited to tutoring and anything that didn’t include being officially hired. But the moment I turned 18, I started working in hospitality.
In some countries (one of them I had a chance to study in), if you have good grades, you’re able to receive a scholarship. So, I actually got paid to study! Due to that, I was able to save more for my travels and I also found some jobs abroad. There are plenty of opportunities in the world as long as you aren’t picky. After all, this isn’t a career you are starting, it’s just a way to earn money.
I never took out any loans.
I was always able to find a way to finance my expenses by working part-time jobs. I’d rather work here and there instead of having to think about having debts for the next couple of years.
But, I’m not going to lie to you: sometimes my schedule looked like this: 8AM-3PM internship, 3:30-5PM classes, 5:30-23:45 bartending.
During my MA studies in the UK, I always worked in a bar in the evening. With an internship on the side, I was able to buy my flights to volunteer in Zimbabwe in 2010. At first, my friends couldn’t understand why I was working so much. Even more so, why I wanted to go to Zimbabwe, but I knew it was going to be an amazing experience.
I recently read an article that readers are getting tired of bloggers who claim that everyone can travel. Articles such as: ‘I sold everything I owned and bought a one-way ticket’, might not be very helpful to everyone. Not all of us have something to sell. I haven’t for instance. I started from zero.
I had no car or a house to sell, and I didn’t embark on an adventure without a plan. In fact, I recently wrote an article on why I’ll never tell you to skip college to travel.
You don’t have to sell your belonging to be able to travel. You can manage to travel by working abroad or getting a scholarship. Just like I did it.
Why didn’t I want to “just travel”?
I never had any intentions of heading on a long around-the-world trip. I’m generally not a big fan of these sorts of journeys (apart from the fact that I had not much to sell in order to afford it). I always wanted to have a backup plan. Especially because at some point every traveler wants to stop somewhere and settle down, and I didn’t want to be left with no opportunities.
Right before graduating from college, I realized that instead of spending my money on “just traveling around”, I could also use my education and internship opportunities to travel. Moreover, while doing something beneficial for my future at the same time.
I went to Argentina because I got an internship there, I studied and worked in the Netherlands, I taught English in Mexico. It was probably less fun that drinking and partying in hostels, but by doing what I did I had a chance to actually get to know the culture of every place I lived in.
I didn’t just pass through these countries by seeing only tourist attractions (again, nothing wrong with that per se if you want to enjoy your holidays!). As a result, I was always earning money and my piggy bank of savings was used towards short trips in the meantime.
My method of traveling wasn’t very unique, many people do it and you can as well! Your situation may be different, but if you really want to travel, you can always find a way to do it and even save money on the side.
Did I ever end up with no money?
YES, because I’m a huge risk-taker. In 2011, due to some personal reasons, I had to leave Mexico and move back to Europe. Living on a Mexican salary in Mexico wasn’t a problem, but to save money for living elsewhere was a challenge.
As a result, I got back to London with only 80 GBP. I stayed at my friend’s house for a month, quickly found two jobs, and worked day and night for the first month. But thanks to that I rented my own place, lived pretty comfortably. 2 months later I also flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Carnival.
I’m not saying that you need to always work extremely hard to travel, but if you set your goals and work towards them everything will work out.
I’m actually very glad I came to London with no money as it made me confident. Now I know that I can dig myself out of any situation. So can anyone as well as long as they believe in it!
How did my blog help me financially with my travels?
I recently read and participates in a discussion between travel bloggers about the possibilities of sponsored travel. What I read there was horrifying. A lot of bloggers demand to receive everything for free all the time like they’re at least a royal family and refuse to pay even a little bit for anything.
I must agree with an article Liz Carlson wrote that unfortunately, the gimme attitude has become a common thing for travel bloggers. As I’ve done an extensive amount of traveling before the blog I don’t always write about sponsored trips. Therefore you can find sponsored and not sponsored content on my blog.
I can also recommend a bunch of excellent blogs that won’t feature the next stay at Radisson Blue or touring Phuket beaches but can give you tips on hiking in Ethiopia, visiting Yemen or any other less popular spots.
Do I make money from my blog?
Since November 2014 I’ve become a full-time blogger. Not by choice, but since I was traveling and leading a nomadic lifestyle I just had to make my blog a proper business. Obviously, there are tons of side things you can do as a blogger: freelance social media consulting, implementing affiliate links, Google Adsense, sponsored posts and many other things.
These days I do make a full-time income from my travel blog. However, if you’re thinking of starting a travel blog expecting to get an income the next day you should probably forget this idea right now.
HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG? Find out HERE.
Do I make a full-time salary from my blog?
Yes, but I’m not sleeping on a bed of money either. At least not yet, as becoming a successful travel blogger is a long and intense process. Not only that, being a full-time blogger in the majority of cases doesn’t mean that you receive an income only from your blog. Many bloggers almost always have another source of income on the side: freelance writing, capital investment, translations, etc.
Payment for my blog services works in a variety of ways: sometimes it’s a straight barter transaction, where I am given accommodation, flights, and experiences in exchange for my services. Other times I’m paid in cash. It’s case by case.
One way or another, it’s impossible not to work and just travel as travel blogging is a very demanding job. There’s just a difference between being a digital nomad and working in an office. I often stay in a hotel room and work 10h a day to make this all happen.
Therefore, if you’re wondering if I’m partying all night and lying on the beach all day that’s probably not the case. I’m glued to my phone most of the time and have my laptop ready whenever wherever.
Read more on how to monetize a travel blog.
The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway 🙂